Thursday, November 13, 2014

Twas the Night Before Tipoff

Yesterday I pushed through the high/low scenarios for the year.  Today it gets personal.  Here are my keys to the season, largest items of concern, and prediction:

The Keys:

1)  Let it be a freshman, a senior, or Tavon, the coaching staff needs to use out of conference play to find their third scorer.  We saw what happened when Frank Elegar was the only guy out there who could score, as good as Frank was, it was the worst Drexel record in a couple decades.  They have to have multiple pieces, it can't all be Lee (or Williams).

2)  The inside out game.  This was mentioned by friends at the CAAZone before I could get it up here, but there has to be much more willingness to get the ball inside.  Bru's quote to the daily news was "We think our bigs will score more."  Last year the bigs only took 19.7% of the teams shots (scoring 25.6% of the teams points from the floor, as they were more efficient than the guards).  That 19.7% number is insanity and will need to come close to doubling this year.  That's a major adjustment from the guards first offense that DU has run post-Samme Givens.

3)  Rebounding.  There has been talk about how long this DU team will be with the size of Allen, Lee, Bah and Williams.  As previously noted, Damion didn't pull down a single offensive rebound in his four and a half games last season, Tavon's 3 rebounds per game doesn't inspire confidence and even Rodney Williams was only pulling down 5 boards a game in his average 20 minute stints.  Rodney will need to stay on the floor more, but the coaching staff needs to make it clear that the glass will be an all hands on deck responsibility this year, the guards can't just sit back and hope for Dartaye anymore.  All that said, with the size and athleticism of the roster, even when Tavon isn't on the floor, if the effort and mindset is there, the rebounds should be there.

The Concerns:

1)  The point guard spot will have all eyes on it early in the year as it gets handed off to a freshman.  What people forget is that much like a Chip Kelly offense is for a quarterback, Drexel's offense is pretty point guard friendly.  Readers may remember my classmate, Jeremiah King, or Bashir Mason, Jamie Harris, and Frantz Massenat all who played the point in their first year and were just fine, if not better than that.  My concern isn't that so much about the point as it is about a potential overreaction by the coaches to the loss of Major Canady.  Freddie Wilson can not and should not play a minute at the point.  They made that call at Seton Hall, and by placing both a sophomore and a freshman on the depth chart in front of the senior, the Drexel coaches had already made that decision here.  I would much rather see Damion Lee bringing the ball up court than taking away a scorers mindset from Freddie.  Keep it simple coaches, you have already made this call correctly once, don't undo it now!

2)  Foul trouble is a killer this year.  I always thought last years team was fine even with the injuries (as I showed on the scenario 1 post), this years team can't take any more losses.  Depth is non-existent barring some surprises, so foul trouble will cause major issues.  We know that the Dragons could spend all game helping little old ladies cross the street and Bob Testa would still call three illegal screens on them, so foul trouble will happen, but the guys need to do everything they can to avoid the dumb, unnecessary foul.

3)  The coaching.  Hear me out here now because this cuts both ways.  The staff got themselves in trouble when they decided that Damion would be their golden goose.  It made for some internal discontent when after watching Fouch, Mejia and Hawthorne always get the quick hook because of their defensive liabilities, players watched Damion make SEPTA turnstiles jealous while getting more and more minutes.  The rules had changed.  The end result was - by Bruiser's own admission - 2 of the worst defensive teams of his career.  This is bad.  What's worse is playing that four guard set at the CAA Tournament.  As mentioned previously though, both of these attempts showed Bru making an attempt to change, offering to be flexible with his previously rigid approach, and I think that is a net positive.  We saw a successful zone at times.  The Dragons even successfully inbounded the ball once or twice.

Lets talk about that defense though.  Check this out from Kenpom:

Check out the defensive efficiency after the calendar turned to February.  The fellas went to school.  They entered the CAA tournament as an elite defensive team, and I'd argue the CAA tournament number is skewed by the four guard set and amount of fouling that needed to happen.  Bru can teach defense.  And he can adapt.  The question is, can he realize things and begin to fix them fast enough..  No change was made with the Tavon situation until after the season was over, and it took 4 months of a 5 month season to make the appropriate defensive adjustments.  He's getting better at it, but he's going to need to be much better at it to become a successful (read, tournament worthy) head coach.

The Conclusion:

In this CAA there is opportunity.  I wouldn't object to anyone placing this team anywhere between first and sixth in the preseason expected standings.  I'll go one better than the CAA writers expected and say a third place finish with the option of a pay to play tournament.  I love the challenging out of conference schedule and think that it will help really shine on the teams weaknesses prior to the conference season, putting a spotlight for Bru to follow and fix as we move into 2015.  

At the end of the day (yeah, I said it) Drexel basketball is always better than no Drexel basketball, so lets go support our Dragons.  See you tomorrow night.

No comments:

Post a Comment